Superintendent's salary at issue again

August 12, 2003 12:00 am

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

A recommendation that Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva's salary rise from $92,000 to $95,600 a year caused a rippling reaction when county school board members met last night.

Some board members said Silva deserved more, some disagreed, and one audience member said no raise should be given.

"We felt he deserved a pay increase given the things he's done," said Trustee Juliana Feriani, who served on the committee that made the salary recommendation.

A list of Silva's accomplishments in his first six months in office included efforts to have county school superintendents cooperate more closely, an assessment of the county office, workshops and a common calendar for 80 percent of county schools, among other things.

But the five present board members disagreed on what Silva deserved, and he sat quietly while they hashed out his performance and discussed what his salary should be.

Ultimately, trustees tabled the decision until each could talk to constituents about Silva's effectiveness as superintendent.

Trustee Harry Huff conducted an informal survey of county school employees before the meeting. He said those he talked to were less than pleased with Silva.

" They're not overly impressed," Huff said. "They're not really satisfied about the kind of services they receive out of the office."

Trustee Chucker Twining said he was surprised by Huff's comments, and urged a pay hike for Silva.

"I don't think ($95,600) is enough money, personally," he said, adding that to pay Silva less is to risk losing him to a more lucrative job.

Even if trustees do approve the nearly $4,000 salary increase, Silva will still make less than he did as superintendent of Sonora Elementary School District ($98,400), which he left last year to serve as head of the county schools office.

And compared to similarly sized counties, Silva will still remain low paid even with an increase. The county closest in size to Tuolumne Nevada County pays its superintendent of schools $97,380, and the numbers go up from there.

Speaking from the audience, retired teacher Winifred Stone advocated extreme caution in the face of California's budget crisis.

"I think it is fiscally irresponsible to have any increases at the administrative level," she said.